Look closely at any photo taken of The Royal Children, and one will see a woman by their side, dressed in a nude-colored uniform and brown hat with the letter N. These are the Norland-trained nannies...
Meet the Nannies
Norland Nannies are the best of the best, fit to care for any royal or celebrity child. They may be the most expensive nannies on offer, but their price tag reflects their high-quality training.
When a family hires a Norland Nanny, they know they can be trusted to look after their child with the highest level of care. The graduates are trained for every situation and every type of child and family. Put simply, they are the 21st-century take on Mary Poppins...
Where It All Started
Established in 1892 by Emily Ward, Norland College has been producing the best nannies in the world for over 130 years. Located in Bath, England, it prides itself on being "the first educational establishment to offer any kind of childcare training."
It's no easy place to study, but it's a one-way ticket to an extraordinary world of childcare. Not only does it offer the students an excellent education in childcare services, but it also provides its graduates with a social status level that would be deemed acceptable by its high-profile clients.
A Reputation To Uphold
Being a Norland Nanny means being part of an important legacy - a long line of nannies who have cared for the A-List and royal children since its establishment. Caring for future kings and queens, these workers are the silent heroes on the sidelines of history.
The picture above was taken in 1971 and showed three Norland nannies dressed in uniform, pushing strollers in the park. Even back then, the N on their hats guaranteed professionalism and expertise. As the circumstances and world change, they are constantly up-to-date on the best childcare practices.
The Royal Clients
Since its opening, Norland graduates have been working with the most prestigious families in the world. The Royal Family, for example, has historically only employed Norland nannies. Prince George's nanny, Maria Borrallo, who can be seen amongst many Royal Family pictures, is a Norland graduate.
Besides The Royal Family, celebrities have been known to employ Norland graduates due to their high standard of education, which perfectly blends theory and practice. According to the Daily Mail, Mick Jagger and his ex-wife Jerry Hall hired a Norland nanny for their children, Lizzie and James.
Because of their skills and reputation, Norland Nannies are in incredibly high demand. The college website claims a 100% employment rate for its graduates in a paid nanny role as families worldwide look to employ them. Class sizes have increased over the years from 100 students to 250 due to the high demand.
"We have around six jobs for every graduate looking for one, which means parents are recognizing the importance of those one-to-one personal relationships children will develop with their nannies," Vice-President Mandy Donaldson told Business Insider. With those statistics, we need to know what it takes to be a Norland nanny...
The Strict Uniform
The formal uniform is an iconic and essential part of Norland College. Since its opening in 1892, these nannies can be spotted easily by their official uniforms. "When they're in uniform, they're representing 125 years of history and quality," Donaldson noted.
Students are expected to wear the uniform at all times while on campus. They should also wear it on their journeys to and from school. For the females, the uniform includes a brown hat, nude-colored dress, brown shrug, and white gloves in the summer or brown gloves in the winter. Male students wear a jacket, shirt, and tie.
A Pricey Experience
When working directly with the families, students are provided with a more casual uniform to wear, which allows for messier and more flexible activities associated with nannying. This uniform includes navy blue pants, a sweater, and a light blue polo shirt.
For both sets of uniforms, nude-colored brogues are the only acceptable shoewear. Students wanting to enroll in the college will need to be able to afford the required uniform, which can cost around £800. At the time of writing, that is equal to about $980!
In addition to the official uniform purchased, the college has additional dress-code requirements for its students. In an effort to look tidy, orderly, and professional, female students are expected to have their hair tied back in a tight bun at all times.
They may only have one hole pierced in their ear, with the earring limited to a small, plain stud. Watches may not be worn on the wrist, and any student with other piercings or tattoos should ensure they are covered up at all times while in uniform. Makeup must be subtle, and fingernails must be clean.
When off-campus but still in uniform, Norland students are expected to represent their school in the best way possible. In order to keep up appearances and the school's impeccable reputation which ensures its successful graduation rate, students must behave accordingly.
For example, Norland nanny students should not be seen around town in their uniform chewing gum, listening to music in public even with headphones, buying food from fast-food restaurants, consuming or buying alcohol, and walking in the street on a cell phone.
"Have Fun and Enjoy"
Norland Nannies still have plenty of time for fun despite the strict behavioral instructions. The school encourages its students to enjoy their time off and socialize with each other. The friends they make at the school will prove to be a helpful nanny network in the future.
When not in uniform, the students are encouraged to have fun in whatever way they please. "They're in a city with other universities and lots of student life, so once they're not in uniform, we want them to have fun and enjoy themselves," explains Donaldson.
Norland graduates are awarded a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development and Learning, backed by the University of Gloucestershire. Over the three-year course, students learn the theory behind child development. Modules include Safeguarding and Child Protection, Promoting Health and Wellbeing, and Children's Behavior.
In 2019, the college was officially recognized as an undergraduate degree provider, and the first graduation ceremony was held before the pandemic hit. Alongside the degree and for the year after its completion, students will work to earn the famous Norland Diploma.
A Day in the Life
A Norland Student's average day runs from 9 am to 4:30 pm and consists of classes and lectures. Four days of the week are dedicated to formal learning, while the fifth day is designated for individual study. As part of the diploma, students are taught a range of practical skills they may need on the job.
These modules include Communication in Practice, Food and Nutrition, Health and Wellbeing, Play and Learning, and Sewing. The value-added curriculum, which sets the school apart, includes drama workshops, emotion coaching, alternative therapies, security and cyber security training, self-defense training, and more.
Put to the Test
The last module making up the diploma is the Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN), also known as the paid placement year. Prospective clients take comfort in the fact that these students have learned childcare skills not just in the classroom but also through hands-on experience with real-life children.
The college helps the students to find the placements by organizing interviews for them. Institutions can range from hospitals to nurseries and will all involve one-on-one work with children in a range of activities and situations. Here, students have an opportunity to learn practical skills they cannot learn from a textbook.
One of the most practical skills the Norland students will perfect is sewing. A compulsory module across all three years starts from the beginning with a basic introduction to the sewing machine and hand-sewing equipment and develops from there.
Once their confidence is established, the future nannies are trained on how to sew a range of items they may need while working with the families. Already in the first year, they will create a child's apron; in the second year, they will make zip bags and cushion covers, and in year three, they will make a cape and quillow.
A nanny's duties are varied. While in some families, they might be limited to direct childcare, in other families, they may be required to cook dinner too. For this reason, the Norland curriculum includes cooking and baking classes. They begin with an overview of food preparation, cooking skills, and nutrition.
Following this foundation, students learn the art of meal planning and how it can help children have a balanced diet. They will practice using advanced equipment and develop homemade techniques. The course covers cooking for children with specific dietary requirements as well as cooking for various celebrations.
A key module titled Safeguarding and Child Protection is split into degree and diploma learning opportunities. As part of the degree, students will learn the professional and legal responsibilities of safeguarding and protecting children. For the diploma, students will explore the practical ways to keep children safe.
"We show them how to risk-assess different activities, and safeguard children in terms of protecting them from abuse, unsafe contact from others, and [making sure] children understand their rights and responsibilities," Donaldson told Business Insider.
As part of the school's value-added curriculum and emphasis on safeguarding, they offer additional practical workshops that prepare their nannies for any threat against the children under their care. Self-defense is taught by a Black Belt Tae Kwon Do trainer who demonstrates how to protect children even while in a stroller.
Security and cyber security training are also provided in an attempt to keep up-to-date with the most common modern-day threats. Former military intelligence officers will visit the college to provide training on keeping safe online and how to handle any security threats encountered.
Navigating the Roads
As an extension of the safeguarding training, Norland nannies are prepared for any type of threat - even those on the road. In the final year, students will learn skid control driving skills on a skid-pan driving course. The instructors will demonstrate how to keep control of a car under any circumstances.
Whether it's slippery roads in the most adverse weather conditions, children being distracting while in the back of the vehicle, or even out-of-control paparazzi drivers following the car, Norland nannies can swerve their way out of any potentially hazardous situation.
While Norland Nannies may be prepared for the most extreme circumstances, that doesn't mean they aren't equipped with the basics. As part of their training, they are taught how to master all the everyday duties that are expected of any professional nanny.
The nannies learn how to support a breast or bottle-fed child, the art and importance of sleeping routines, toilet training, diaper changing, spotting signs of illness, and playing. "Our nannies don't learn on the job because they've already got those skills," Donaldson said to BI.
“Every Family and Child Is Different”
Ultimately, this wide range of skills helps to ensure that the nannies are equipped to support their families in whatever way is required. Students are educated on the different types of families they may work with, whether their cultural identity, poverty levels, or unique family structure.
They are taught how to identify these various families and appropriately support them. "Every family and child is different — there's no 'one size fits all' solution, so they need to have plenty of different strategies in their toolbox so they can understand how the family operates," explained Donaldson.
Even once they are out in the real world working with a family, Norland graduates can always turn to their teachers for ongoing support. The College's in-house recruitment agency, known as The Norland Agency, not only helps students to find jobs but also provides lifelong support for their working nannies.
"The reality of living in and working for a family can be tough, and [the Agency is] there at the end of the phone if they need support and don't know how to do something. They're there if they have any questions, from how long to cook an apple pie for to supporting children through a traumatic event," Donaldson explained to BI.
High Profile Procedures
In light of the fact that every family is different, Norland understands that those nannies working with high-profile families may require additional guidance. Parents such as these will typically work long and irregular hours and therefore, often need a nanny to be the sole caretaker of their child.
Considering the amount of time they expect the nannies to spend with their children, the recruitment process can be rigorous in these cases. Although the family will make the final decision, this will typically follow a string of interviews conducted by the household staff.
The Final Send-Off
Norland College prides itself on its 100% employment rate. But they don't expect the students to make it all happen on their own. Staff is on hand to help the graduates find suitable places of employment. Moreover, they ensure that they are prepared to shine when they turn up for their interviews.
In the third year, in a module titled 'Reflective Practice: Employment,' students are prepped and primed for the world of employment. Not only with their skills but also with the interview and application process. There are formal sessions teaching employment procedures and laws and practical sessions on creating portfolios.
As with any job, it is important to understand how much money can be made with the profession, ranging from newly graduated to highly experienced. It may come as a surprise to many that nannies who have trained at Norland College can make a competitive salary, earning up to £42,000 in London and up to £60,500 elsewhere in the UK.
Although the tuition fees average at £14,000 a year, which is higher than other courses, the rewarding salary and graduation rate suggest it's a worthwhile investment. "If you're newly qualified, you get paid slightly less — around £22,000 a year — but you live-in, so you have no bills or rent to pay," explained Donaldson.
Those who think Norland College sounds like the place for them will be pleased to hear that no previous experience is required. Of course, there are some experienced students who are looking to formalize their careers. However, most students come straight out of high school.
It is not expected for applicants to have completed child-care qualifications beforehand, however, it can help these students to stand out. In her online blog, Daisy Pullen, a recently accepted Norland Student, wrote that "the Norland online babysitting course and a few CPD courses helped [her] application stand out."
Setting the Story Straight
Most importantly, Donaldson wants people to know that everyone interested is invited to apply, no matter their socio-economic background or gender. "We have a misguided reputation for being elitist," she told BI. While the Norland clients are often from the more privileged parts of society, the nannies are diverse in many ways.
Backing up this claim with statistics, she insisted that "70% of our intake comes from the non-privately educated sector." Additionally, to overcome the stereotype that being a nanny is a job exclusively for women, the school works hard to encourage more male students to apply, expanding their student body range.
Facing the Facts
While no formal experience with children is necessary, the school is looking for people who have some level of awareness about working with children. "As much as we'd love to believe it's all about reading stories and singing songs, it's really hard work being in charge of a little human being," Donaldson insisted.
"[We look for] the things we can't teach them," she told BI. "Absolute passion and commitment for working with children, [as well as] some experience — babysitting, voluntary work in nurseries — something that will give them the idea of the reality of working with children."
If an application is successfully carried through the initial screening process, the prospective student will be invited for an interview. Recently accepted to the program, Daisy Pullen shared her interview experience in an online article, helping interested students understand what to expect from the process.
"For the interview, I had to complete a task. Mine was to find an object around my house that would help children under four communicate through play. I created my own hand puppet in the style of a Norland Nanny using materials from my house, and I think the interviewees really liked that."
Before Saying "Yes"
For those looking to follow Daisy's lead and be successfully enrolled in the prestigious college, she recommends doing thorough research about the school and the qualification first. Before getting excited about the prospect of working with the children of the rich and famous, make sure to know what it really involves.
"Research is so important. You really need to look into the school and the program and make sure it's something you want to pursue. I spent a lot of time looking at their online resources, which helped me make sure it was the right choice for me," she wrote.
Skills for Life
Norland College offers its students a crash course in life skills that they can hold onto forever, whether for a client's child or their own. For anyone interested in being an early-year practitioner, there is no better place to study it as the school's reputation speaks for itself.
Once graduated, being a Norland Nanny is a life-changing opportunity to make a difference. Not only will the graduates learn from the experience themselves, but they will also, more importantly, help to determine the future adult the child will become—a huge responsibility with unlimited potential...